Reservist

ISS1 2018

Reservist Magazine is the award-winning official publication of the United States Coast Guard Reserve. Quarterly issues include news and feature articles about the men and women who comprise America's premier national maritime safety and security

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drove to the base, pretty sure she wouldn't have time for a hotel in the near future. She didn't even remember checking out. As the liaison officer, Sevin coordinated with the area's emergency operations centers to triage and prioritize calls for assistance. Everything from kids needing dialysis to pregnant women who'd begun early labor. The Coast Guard had embedded representatives in each EOC, and Sevin coordinated with them whenever Coast Guard assets were needed to support a city rescue. Houston's shelters hadn't been set up for the kind of evacuations that were now taking place. Up to 200 people per day were taken to the sector by Coast Guard Air Station Houston, located just a mile away. The sector hadn't been set up for this. "People needed everything, they left everything, they had nothing," she said. "Anything from a toothbrush to a hair tie, we were taking our own stuff to give them at this point, just to make them comfortable. With the unit still minimally staffed (but gaining strength as personnel rolled in), Sevin took on the small logistics role of rearranging the galley to house survivors. When the shelters finally opened, she worked out arrangements with the National Guard to arrange buses for transportation to the shelters. She saw people with only the soaked clothes on their backs trying to take care of children and the more senior residents. Active duty members worked with Sevin to provide security, document the names of those rescued, and retrieve (or distribute) flight suits and dry blankets for the soaked visitors. She'd learned the Incident Command System before formal qualifications existed, and that helped her slide from role to role as needed. "It was like running a shelter, which is not something the Coast Guard does. There's no training for this. It was very much kind of 'roll with it,'" said Sevin. "You go where you're needed, and you just do the job." Meanwhile, her parents had just switched places with her in- laws. They'd driven down from Iowa to watch the Sevins' children. When her daughter had her first day of school, Sevin wished her luck over the phone and had to quickly get back to work. Her husband texted the former stay-at-home mother a photo of her big girl's first day. "I have very good parents," said Sevin. "They've been so supportive of any choice I've made. When push came to shove and we needed help with the kids, they were here in a heartbeat. And that just eased my mind, knowing they're back there." In Houston, Sevin found sleep when she could, dragging a cot to an empty office or conference room, but she was always ready to go the next day. She transitioned into the role of governmental affairs officer, arranging everything from transportation to talking points for the Coast Guard's alignment with senior officials, including the president, the commandant, the speaker of the house, senators, and Houston's mayor and judge. Coordinating a smooth visit with the staff of each dignitary required hours of phone calls, despite the knowledge that the plan would change dozens of times. Sevin's versatility shone as she moved from job to job, from coordinating rescue efforts to running a makeshift shelter, from liaison officer to governmental affairs. She laughed thinking of all the small emergencies she handled. One day, she was called to help make breakfast in the galley. Another time, she arranged formal sit-down lunch for a last minute VIP visit with the Secretary of Homeland Security. "It was really like an 'all hands on deck' evolution," said Sevin. "I get the foundation of the training and why we have schedules, but it really comes down to your ability to roll with it. You just come in and do it." "She was the point person; she wore many hats like we all did," said Lt. Cmdr. Omar Barajas, reserve force readiness staff chief. "And she was running for days. Man, if Marie Sevin didn't take the job she did…." Barajas broke off, his appreciation filling the silence. When the pace of operations slowed back down after several weeks, Sevin headed up to Austin to be with her family. Her husband, her parents and her children greeted the tired officer with smiles and hugs. The following day, she walked her little girl to school. � "It was definitely a heavy lift for them with me being away," said the chief. "They had to keep the farm up and running by themselves, which they did wonderfully." In Clearwater, his team bought more generators and gathered supplies. They scored a few pairs of coveralls to make their uniforms go a little further. "I've been in 23 years, so I've been to Katrina, Deepwater, Operation Iraqi Freedom…," said Bazzrea. "I tell my guys, 'When we get called to go, be prepared to stay indefinitely. Don't just bring one uniform and three pairs of socks,' you know?'" Sector Houston's scrappy and well-traveled enforcement team hitched a ride back down to the Caribbean on a C-130, this time to San Juan. The gray sky Hurricane Maria left still hadn't cleared before the team's boots hit the ground, augmenting the Coast Guard's Tactical Law Enforcement Team South from Miami. They helped with Sector San Juan's base and housing security, assisted in evacuations and conducted accountability checks for Coast Guardsmen and their dependents. "Everything that was accomplished was because of them, not me," said Bazzrea, who wouldn't take credit for anything. "I was the helmsman, but my team was the ship. I made minor course corrections as needed, but without them, none of what we accomplished would have been possible." As resourceful as a pack of scouts, the team made a few phone calls, working with Barajas back in Houston as well as the local incident command posts to go where the most help was needed. Barajas amended orders for the team as needed, keeping constant communication as they traveled around the Caribbean They headed back to St. Thomas. The tiny island had taken a double whammy from Hurricanes Irma and Maria. Commercial flights off the island were booked solid, but Bazzrea's resourcefulness was becoming more finely-honed. "[We jumped on] Anything going over there, cutters, helicopters, two guys here, three guys there, until we got set up back on St. Thomas." Eventually the MSST from Miami joined the enforcement team on the island. Bazzrea recalled how surprised people were to see the LE team with the words "Sector Houston-Galveston" on their covers. "They'd say, "Man, you guys are here? Isn't your area affected?' and I'd say, "Yeah, we already handled that. We're here now.'" � Issue 1 • 2018 � RESERVIST 31

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